When Bethlehem City Council adopted a new, 168-page zoning ordinance in August, council members warned they would fine tune it. Their first set of changes was reviewed at the Planning Commission's Oct. 11 meeting, with mixed results.
Planners first considered changes that would tighten the parking of recreational and commercial vehicles in residential districts to include any vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds, as well as box trucks, cargo trucks and container trucks.
An amendment to the zoning code that would create more restrictions on what is allowed to occupy a corner store was unanimously approved to be sent to the planning committee at the Oct. 2 Bethlehem City Council meeting.
The zoning code that was passed in early August allowed use corner homes in residential neighborhoods to be used as businesses. The proposed amendment would exempt tattoo parlors and pawn shops from operating out of these corner stores.
The amendment comes after city residents such as Bruce Haines voiced complaints about the new zoning codes.
Before a standing-room only crowd of more than 70 residents, Hanover Township's Zoning Hearing Board has paved the way for two "flex" buildings on the north side of Jaindl Boulevard.
Following a Sept. 27 hearing, zoners unanimously decided to grant dimensional variances for this $25 million project. They did so despite complaints about truck traffic and noise from members of a Traditions of America residential community for older, active adults, located directly across the street.
November's election is now officially unconstrained by Pennsylvania's oft-debated voter ID law.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson decided on an injunction Oct. 2, which will allow residents to vote without photo ID, but does not entirely take the law off the table after November.
Hellertown resident Lee Weidner spoke Sept. 17, informing members of council there has recently been an influx of speeding motorized ATVs and bikers on Hellertown's portion of the Rails to Trails.
Weidner, who brought photographs along with him to show council, said he and borough Police Chief Robert Shupp believes the riders are from Bethlehem, and have been tearing up the roadway, creating divots and eluding police.
It was a showdown between Allentown and many of its surrounding municipalities. In an effort to revitalize the Queen City with a hockey arena, office buildings and a luxury hotel, a special tax district was created. In a 130-acre Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), developers could pay for these projects, in part, by diverting the local taxes of out-of towners who worked there. This would deplete municipal coffers.
Kevin Lott approached Hellertown Borough Council Sept. 17 requesting permission to install a sidewalk on his property rather than the required raised crosswalk.
"It's very burdensome," Lott told council. "This crosswalk is much more than I bargained for."
Lott said he obtained estimates for the crosswalk, which averaged $32,000. He also said he would have to carry liability insurance, which is costly.
The uncushioned fold-down seats in Nitschmann MS's auditorium, far fewer than one might think of seeing at a school with 900 students, are every bit as uncomfortable as they look. The cavernous room is also filled with an array of band equipment and generally looks shabby.
And it was the site of the Bethlehem Area School District's board of directors' facilities meeting Oct. 1, which followed a tour of much of the equally-dingy building.
Point well made.
Like it or not, Bethlehem Township must provide for prison uses in its zoning ordinance. That's what a three-judge Commonwealth Court panel ruled in April, holding that the township ordinance was unconstitutionally exclusionary. At its Oct. 1 meeting, a sharply divided Board of Commissioners complied with that decision by approving a zoning ordinance amendment that will allow prison uses in the township's agricultural district. These changes were supported by President Paul Weiss, Tom Nolan and Mike Hudak. But the board's two newest members – Phil Barnard and Marty Zawarski – voted no.